“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4, 5 (NIV)
As some of you may know, I’m the youngest of Pastor Minor’s three children and I have come clean and confess I’ve cheated my way through life.
In watching my brother and sister I got to see the results or their actions and adjusted what I did to get the results I wanted. This set a trend for me too. Instead of getting actively involved I tended to sit off from a group and just watch what people did. Even when I got involved it’s was only to accomplish the task that team work demanded. So of course, I didn’t play a lot of team sports when I was growing up. I already had a group of kids I hung out with in school and around the neighborhood so organized sports just seemed like more effort than I wanted to put forth. But school demanded I have some sort of physical education, so I joined the marching band to fulfill this requirement.
Now while band didn’t land me with the “cool” kids, it did teach me one of the same lessons I think youth in sports learned, when everyone contributes and plays their part we can produce something beautiful. A single person walking around a football field probably wouldn’t have drawn a lot of cheers from people in the stands but 250+ coordinated youth, well that was a sight worth applauding.
But, as an individual band member you can’t really see that. There’s a totally different understanding when you’re on the field. You can’t see the whole formation, you just know your part and the spots you know to hit. It’s not until you get to go back and watch the taped performances that you see how your contribution supported the greater ensemble.
This is the picture I offer as we look at today’s Romans 12 scripture.
When I consider verses 4 & 5 of Romans 12, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. ”, it paints a fascinating picture of God’s love. God is a generous giver so none of us has to have all of the gifts because He laid it out so we could, and would, depend on each other. Now I won’t speak for any of you but I know that for me, supporting let alone depending on others is not always easy. In fact incidents occur in life that leave some serious wounds. After which we might have told ourselves we would never open ourselves up to be hurt again or that we wouldn’t ever put that much hope or trust in a person again. And while there is wisdom in being cautious, we don’t have to be totally guarded in life. When we accepted Christ as savior and Lord, we got the opportunity to take our hurts and our pains and give them to Christ. We then get to put our faith in Him to protect us and care for us. When we accepted him as savior He also sent the Spirit to reside in each of us and by His power we can be enabled to help others and fulfill God’s commission to us. And this is a good thing because sometimes life will put us in situations where we have to depend on others.
Case in point, have any of you had to have your wisdom teeth removed? I remember some years back when I had to go to the dentist and have that procedure done. After the surgery was done, I was still under anesthesia, so I was unable to drive. I had to rely on another to take me back home. This same situation occurred after a trip to the eye doctor where I had to have my pupils dilated and have some other tests done. Without the support of another I would have had to sit at the eye doctor for over an hour and wait until I was cleared to drive myself. These incidents let us know how much we need each other but they also offer us a chance to be a support for someone else.
How often through your life have you supported someone by being there when they needed a meal while they were sick or caring for a sick loved one? How many times have you helped a friend move to a new home or just move furniture around in the house? Even those times when you’ve shared a kind word or been a listening ear? These simple acts let people know that they are loved and valued. I think that’s a great example of why God spells out some of the gifts He gave us in verses 6-8 of the Romans 12 passage.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
God doesn’t require that we do huge, daunting tasks to show our love, serving, teaching, encouraging, sharing a word from God, giving of your time and talents and leading are all great acts of service to the church and in your community. And the last one I am learning is very powerful, us showing God’s love to each other by showing mercy. When we demonstrate this gift, we are showing God’s love and His mercy for all mankind. I think back to the passage in Romans 5:7-8 (NASB)
“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We don’t have to die to show this love and we know our death wouldn’t even bring another into salvation anyway, but when we choose to show mercy and forgiveness to one who has wronged us, we show them God’s transforming love and its power in our lives. We share a hope that many in this world long to know.
So individually and collectively we get to support and be supported. Each of us have different contributions to make in life and each person can benefit and be more effective in their life when the other members are doing their part. Even this very morning. One person opened the doors this morning. Another has been leading us in worship. Many people brought the names of people we could pray for. Another prepared and printed the bulletins. Even going one step back, many different people drove to help make sure others could be here. Just in having service we see the need for each person to contribute so that we all can benefit.
So let me close with this, the body is not complete without you.
Again, The body… is not… complete… without… you.
We ALL have a part to play in this present time. The world needs to see the light of Christ in His sons and daughters. Each of us has something, given by God, to contribute to the body. A kind word, a shared meal, a clothing donation, a ride, a willingness to step in a share the Word of God. We each have our little part to play. Through sharing our time, our knowledge, our experiences, ourselves, we enable each other, our communities and future generations to have richer, fuller lives.
Earlier, I shared that I’ve cheated through life. I say that because it started with my brother and sister, but it continued on to me watching and listening and surrounding myself with people to learn from so I could make my life easier. But the reality is I’ve been blessed to have met people who chose to walk out this passage and they shared their knowledge and experiences with me. They helped me avoid roadblocks and pot holes on the road of life. It was their willingness to share that benefited me. I know that not everyone has received this luxury in life but today we are shown in the word that we can help another person by using what God put in us. So, I ask you, will you share your life? Will you be a hero for this generation so that they can see God’s love and learn how to bring glory and honor to our heavenly Father?
As Christ came not to be served but to serve, go from this place and be the body remembering that we honor God by serving others.